Mushroom hunting in Oregon? Experts share how to stay safe
Mushroom experts in Oregon say the public should be careful when foraging this fall.
Edible mushrooms grow very well in Oregon’s public forests, and aficionados say the popular chanterelle variety has just come into season. But they warn that foragers are responsible for knowing what they’re eating.
“Mushrooms a lot of the time are like twins,” said Dylan Eckert, a board member with the Cascade Mycological Society. “They can look very similar and be very different at the same time.”
Eckert said a forager should avoid mushroom varieties they aren't familiar with.
“The easiest way is to learn one mushroom and be good with it,” he said. “Whatever your mushroom of choice is, knowing that to the point where you could identify it in your sleep.”
Eckert said chanterelles are a safe pick to start with. While one of its lookalikes can cause digestive pain, he said that won’t lead to serious illness.
However, he warned of eating unknown mushrooms that are small and brown. He said the deadly galerina can resemble psilocybin-containing varieties.
“Ultimately, it's the when in doubt, throw it out method,” said Eckert.
For help with verification, Eckert said the public can use Facebook groups and iNaturalist, an app and web service. And he said there are guidebooks specific to the local region.
Additionally, the Cascade Mycological Society holds meetings each month at the Amazon Community Center in Eugene, with experts to help identify.
Eckert said the good news is that few mushrooms are truly deadly. And unlike with plants, he said most toxic varieties aren't harmful just to touch.
Instead, he said that an amateur forager is more likely to get injured or lost in the forest.
“Getting back into your vehicle safely is the true danger,” said Eckert. “So ensure that folks know where you're at, and navigate through GPS or stay on trails that you're very familiar with.”
Eckert said when done properly, mushroom hunting can be a great way get out into nature, be social and get the ingredients for a delicious dinner.
“There's something so enjoyable about having a mission, and in the meantime, you're being surrounded by beautiful trees, plants, and animals," Eckert said. "It's an adult treasure hunt."